Ben Rothwell was going to swing for the fences until he got the knockout in his BKFC debut, and fortunately for him, it came almost immediately after the fight began.
Rothwell destroyed Bobo O’Bannon in the co-main event of Saturday’s BKFC 30 event in Monroe, La., and did so in just 19 seconds after the O’Bannon was counted out. It was safe to say then Rothwell had some anger to release upon his opponent.
“I had with a huge chip on my shoulder because of my last fight, and Bobo’s manager took it upon himself to post that fight and said, ‘Oh I see how this fight is going to go,’ and that made me pretty upset and I took it personal,” Rothwell said on The MMA Hour. “I came out, and it was time, man. I’ve been holding back for so long, I really [felt] that way, and I didn’t care how long it was, and I came out there and I was going to keep throwing like that until that fight ended.
“I didn’t care if it was a minute of me throwing like that, five rounds, I was prepared to go like that and, yeah, it was five seconds. You see things in your head but it came out pretty much the way it was in my head.”
Rothwell signed with BKFC after 17 consecutive bouts in the UFC, with his most recent octagon appearance resulting in a 32 second TKO loss to Rogerio de Lima at UFC Vegas 42 this past November.
It wasn’t just the performance in his BKFC debut that stood out to Rothwell, it was the reaction to those closest to him to the event as a whole.
“David Feldman really did something incredible with starting this, and for it being such a new promotion, look how many shows they’re doing,” Rothwell said. “They’re really doing an amazing job with this.
“In the good ways, I kind of feel like [I did] in the IFL again — in the good ways. It’s just cool. I have the opportunity to be a superstar with these guys and I’m the most excited to help them grow this thing because this whole thing is skyrocketing. Everyone’s excited about the knockout, but the coolest thing for me personally was all the new people that never watched it before — fans, family, my friends — and I asked them and they said, ‘Ben, this was awesome, this was so exciting, these fights were great. They’re all knockouts, they’re all finishes.’ Girlfriends and wives of friends were saying, ‘We get bored with MMA, we were watching all the fights,’ and that is just really exciting for me to hear that.”
Many longtime UFC veterans have made the transition from the cage to the BKFC ring, which has had mixed reviews depending on the athlete in question. Rothwell had a lot of the same pre-fight nerves that he usually has, but this one felt a bit different, leading back to past comments made by legendary heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson.
“There were nerves. They’re always there, and if they’re not, you should be worried, but it was not like UFC,” Rothwell said. “Mike Tyson didn’t come into my mind until after the fight, but he said that in the back room, you feel like a little b****, and then you start walking to the [ring], and you kind of become a boy. Then you get closer and you’re a man, and once you get in there, you become this animal. That’s exactly how I felt.”
Rothwell was blown away by the kindness of his fellow BKFC fighters during the week, with a lot of them talking about how competing in that sport is different on the hands than MMA — discussing how you don’t need to throw with full power to avoid hand injuries.
The advice was appreciated, but Rothwell was always planning on taking a different approach, even if it goes against the grain.
“I threw these things as hard as I possibly could,” Rothwell explained. “If I break my hands on your face, I don’t care, and I guess that’s what’s different about me. That’s why these things are so dangerous, I’m not holding back.”